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Awful Aphids!


Raining Trees?

Have you ever walked underneath a crape myrtle and thought "Oh, it's sprinkling!" and then wondered why it was only raining under the tree? Hate to break it to ya, but you just got pooped on by aphids. GROSS!

That's not the only thing you might notice when these tiny pests are around. Aphids are one of our #1 pest complaints here at the nursery. Fortunately, they are not too difficult to get rid of.

How to Spot Them

Aphids are tiny soft bodied critters that suck the sap out of plants. There are over 4,000 different species and are many different colors including green, yellow, brown, black or even red! Some have a smooth body while others have a waxy or woolly coating.

These little beasties will go after any juicy plant available. Some of the signs you might notice are:

  • curled misshapen or yellow leaves
  • deformed flowers or fruit
  • ants hanging out on your plants
  • shiny, sticky looking leaves
  • black powdery leaves

Curly, deformed or yellow leaves may mean aphids are hiding on the underside of the foliage. Go take a peek! They can also damage flowers and fruit as they form. Many times, folks will see ants on their plants and think that they are the culprit.

Here's the real reason they're there- ants like to keep aphids as pets! Kinda. It's more like farming. The ants will protect aphids from predators because they benefit from them. As aphids feed on plant sap they secrete a substance called honeydew. (Remember the raining poopy crape myrtle? That's really what it is.)

Honeydew is sticky and sweet and ants feed off of it. They even "pet" the aphids to get more of the stuff out of them! This is why you sometimes see wet, shiny looking leaves on plants that are infested. It can also leave a sticky layer of goo on your car or driveway. Honeydew can encourage a fungal growth called sooty mold, hence the black powdery leaves that sometimes appear.

What Now?

So how do you get rid of 'em? There are many easy solutions to aphid issues. Here are a few from simple to hardcore:

  • Is it just a few? Just pinch or snip off the affected leaves.
  • Spray aphids with a hard blast of water. Once you've knocked them off, they generally have a hard time crawling up the same plant again.
  • Release the ladybugs! Ladybugs love to eat aphids. Release them at the base of the plant in the evening and say "buh-bye".
  • Spray 'em with a soapy water solution. Easy peasy.
  • Use diatomaceous earth. This powdery substance is organic and will also keep slugs, beetles and fleas at bay.
  • Use an organic spray such as Spinosad or Insecticial Soap.
  • Use a traditional spray such as Cyonara or any pyrethrin based product.

Still not sure which method to use? Or not sure those are even the right bugs? Bring us a sample and we can help you find the best solution. See ya soon at The Garden Center!




July Plant of the Month

Jerusalem Sage

Oh man, it's getting hot out there. But here's one plant that can take the heat without complaining even a little bit. Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis fruticosa) will take that summer sun and turn it into a spectacular show of yellow flowers to stop you in your tracks.

jerusalem sage

Growing to about 3-4 tall and wide, this shrubby semi-evergreen has woolly gray-green leaves with yellow blooms that appear in spring or early summer. You'll also see butterflies and hummingbirds when you plant this one. Deadheading will encourage it to re-bloom again during the season. Or, leave it alone and let the interesting star shaped seed heads have their moment. The flowers can be cut for bouquets and vases, or used as a dried flower.

Jerusalem Sage is not a true sage plant, but a member of the mint family. Its Mediterranean origins mean that you can count on it tolerating and even thriving in hot, dry spots. Plant in well drained soil in full sun. It is drought tolerant once established and guess what? It's deer resistant! This plant is easy to care for with few pest or disease problems.

Jerusalem Sage is classified as an herbaceous perennial, but here in good ol' zone 8a/9, it all just depends on our winter weather. It is usually a semi-evergreen or in a mild winter, you may not notice any missing leaves at all. A hard winter may make it freeze back, but it generally comes back year after year. It is cold hardy to about 23º although it has been reported to survive lower temperatures.

The mounding, bushy growth habit of Jerusalem Sage makes it look great in informal gardens, cottage gardens or in a Mediterranean themed garden. Pair it with santolina, rosemary, lavender, olives or even agave plants. Use this plant as a border, small hedge or in containers. Jerusalem Sage is blooming now at  The Garden Center. Come by and grab one before they're all gone!